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We are experiencing a homelessness state of emergency. Literally.

With six years in non-profit supportive housing for chronically homeless adults with acute health and behavioral health needs I am a staunch believer in housing first, harm reduction models that address houselessness.

While we know we need to continue to invest in building new units, our crisis cannot wait strictly on new construction. We also need to look at how we can bring more units online quickly.

Reducing the time to open new Safe Rest Villages; more diligently holding development accountable to effectively implement affordable housing mandates; exploring proven models from other cities including conversions of our vacant commercial spaces.

We also need to rethink why we criminalize houselessness. Policies like the camping ban do not support our neighbors in crisis, but rather prioritize the comfort of those with the privilege to live inside.

However, housing the homeless is just one access point to addressing our housing insecurity and instability crisis.

An inclusive housing continuum includes supporting those in our community who are housing insecure. It includes investing in preserving affordable housing units, not exclusively building new ones. It includes multiple options for re-entering housing -- from low-barrier safe shelters, to comprehensive supportive housing, to direct placement in rental units ... all the way to affordable home ownership programs.

Everyone's needs are not the same. We cannot expect everyone to want, or be successful in, the same situation. We cannot value one person's needs more than another's. We must eliminate the expectations, judgments, and bias we hold of how we think someone should act, what we think someone should do, and whether we think those actions and choices entitle someone to support.

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